President Joe Biden continues to trail former President Donald Trump by several percentage points with the latest national polls showing Trump ahead by four points and ahead in five of six battleground states. While Biden’s support has eroded within his own party, swing voters retracting their support is at the heart of the president’s plummeting polling numbers.
A collection of polling across the past month shows Biden losing double-digits with young people, minorities and Independents compared to 2020 as well as struggling with female voters in battleground states.
Independents have been shifting away from Biden by double-digits compared to 2020, with a November CBS News/YouGov poll showing Trump winning Independents by ten percentage points, 54% to 44%. This is a startling reversal from 2020 when Biden won Independents by thirteen percentage points. Another YouGov survey found Independents say their financial situation would be better under Trump by thirty-three percentage points and worse under Biden by twenty percentage points. Economic issues and foreign policy issues are driving Independents away from Biden at a rapid pace.
This comes at a time when more Americans are identifying as Independent than at any other time in modern history. Polling conducted by Gallup in September of this year shows 41% of Americans identify as Independent, compared to just 28% who identify as Republican and the same number who identify as Democrat. Gallup notes that typically Democrats and those who lean Democrat outnumber Republicans and leaners by a few percentage-points, but that advantage has evaporated.
New Gallup polling paints a bleak picture for Biden, with his support from Independents plummeting eight points in the past month as conflict has escalated in the Middle East. Biden’s approval rating has hit an all-time low of just 27% among Independents, and his approval rating across a range of issues does not break above 35%.
Independents are particularly critical of Biden’s response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with only 25% saying they approve of how Biden is handling the conflict. On economic issues, just 24% of Independents approve of Biden’s performance and on foreign affairs just 28% approve.
Middle East policy – which has created divisions on the left in recent weeks – is where Biden’s numbers suffer the most among Democrats. Biden’s approval rating on the Middle East conflict sits at just 60%, over twenty percentage points below his overall approval rating.
Democrats also take issue with Biden on foreign affairs, giving him a 68% approval rating, a fifteen-point difference compared to his overall approval rating. However, Democrats give their highest marks to Biden on his handling of the war in Ukraine, with 78% of Democrats saying they approve of how Biden is handling that issue.
Losing Independents – as several polls show Biden may very well do – could cost Biden the election. Independents represented a quarter of votes in 2020 and supported Biden by thirteen percentage points but are on track to abandon him by double-digits according to current polling. The Biden campaign’s latest plan to pivot away from addressing economic issues and instead attack Trump on social issues is not likely to win them back either.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.